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Text Version of Jim Fyke’s Eulogy

Monday, June 26th, 2017

It has been my great honor to be both Fykey’s pastor and friend for nearly 24 years.I first met Fykey at the June 1993 Park Board Meeting when, as the founding pastor of Highland Park Church, I was there requesting permission to hold our weekly church services in Looby Auditorium which is a Metro Park facility. Long story short we were approved, and met there until we out grew the auditorium. In the process Jim and Becky started attending and became two of our very best friends. When Looby became too small, Fykey arranged for us to move into the newly renovated, 1000 seat Hillsboro High School Auditorium where we stayed until we moved to our permanent 66-acre campus on Knob Rd. Over the years I’ve kiddingly  told Jim that he had been the key to our success as a church. It was not my messages, the music or our staff. It was our prime location in the heart of Green Hills, that he had gotten us after I had been told “NO” and practically “Hell No” by the Principal who explained that much of the last church’s time there had been a nightmare. I have no doubt that God sent Jim and Becky to our fledgling church to open the door of Hillsboro H.S. which led to our permanent location. Later when some of us launched Crossroad Community Church Jim and Becky were among the first to sign on.

Tommy Lynch told me a while back at the Y that the secret to Jim’s success was that instead of saying “No”, Fykey would always find a way to take care of people. He was for sure that kind of guy. He always did it in a humble and unassuming way. I never heard him toot on his horn, when he certainly could have. I don’t think he had a horn. He really was As Frank Ward said so well, “The nicest man in the world”. I was blessed to spend a fair amount of time with him during the past 6 months. Time after time he would say to me. “John, you don’t have to do this”. I would tell him I know I don’t have to but I want to. Jim Fyke made people WANT TO. Folks instantly fell in love with him.

The day that he was moved from Vanderbilt Hospital to Stallworth Rehab the first time his attending physician, at twenty something Chinese – American, came by to say good-by. They talked for a few minutes and then, while shaking hands, the young doctor put his left hand on top of Jim’s and there was an emotional connection. The doctor looked him in the eyes and said I hope I never see you gain. Because if I do you will be sick again. When Jim told me that story it was obvious that that moment had made an impact on him. There was an aura around Fykey that drew folks to him. He was so beloved by so many because he was the real deal and we all intuitively knew it! When you came away from spending time with him you always felt a little better. I know I did.

One of his assets was a sense of humor that lasted until nearly the end. Last Thursday some of us were at the house visiting Jim and all watching the U.S. OPEN. He was sleeping as much as watching. The hospice nurse came to check on him, I think maybe she was adjusting his oxygen level or something. Anyway, she was kind of going about her business And we heard him say to her, I’m sorry for asking so many questions, but this is my first time to do this. I thought I was going to pee in my pants!

A few weeks ago, we were talking at the hospital and I asked him: “Fykey, outside of family stuff, what is the most meaningful thing that you have been a part in your life?” He gave me an answer which was not on my radar. I thought he might say something like starting the greenway, almost doubling the acreage of the Metro Parks or reopening the parks after Gov. Sunquest had closed them down. But he was his reply: “If you had asked me a few months ago I would have said having the Park Headquarters named after me. But today I know it was being a part of giving that money to those new churches. I just found that being a part of helping those other churches with nothing in it for us. That was a great thing to do. I’ve always liked helping people.” Back story: Jim was Chairman of our church board and last year we decided to give $600,000 to a few newly emerging churches in Nashville area that were attracting young people to Jesus.

One day a few months back as were returning from one of his over 180 radiation treatments, I suggested that we stop at Sam’s Place on Hwy 100 for lunch. We often did lunch there where he would usually have pizza. His sense of taste had taken a hit from the chemo and radiation but spicy and tomato based still had a hint of taste. He replied, “Would you mind if we just got a quick lunch at Taco Bell?  I have a youth golf meeting at my house at 1″. The day before he came home from the hospital he and his team wrapped up Fykey’s final dream for our city —- youth golf program for young Nashvillians which will be based at a revamped Percy Warner Golf Course and funded by over 1.5 million dollars from private donations. Jim literally died helping others. He was one of a kind; he will be missed!

David, in the Bible had some thoughts about being missed when he said to his friend Jonathan. I Samuel 20:18 (NLT) “You will be missed when your place at the table is empty”. When we lose a loved one or a friend it leaves an emptiness that’s impossible to fill. Fykey’s place at the table will never be filled nor will his place in our hearts. He cannot come back to us; we would not call him back if we could. No not at all because the instant he drew his last breath Tuesday night the was free of Merkle Cell Cancer whole and complete in the arms of his Savior.  King David of the OT said of the baby he lost, He can’t come to me but I can go to him. The same holds true for us today. Let’s consider death just for a moment. In Jim’s case, I know in my heart that death was not an enemy but a friend.  God in his mercy took him home just after 8 Tuesday night Job in the Old Testament said, after everything had been taken away from him, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive sorrow?”  In all of Job’s pain, confusion and tears God’s love, mercy and grace did not fail Job. Neither did God fail King David, Samuel, Paul or any of the Bible’s characters. He’s never failed me and He didn’t fail Fykey. And He will not fail you folks. That’s his guarantee.

On the other hand, God does not insolate against hardship, failures, troubles, choices, grief, cancer or a relative early death. So much of life I can’t figure out. But I know God works in all the seasons of life. I want us all to see that death delivered the key that let Jim escape out of the sufferings of this life into the presence of his living Savior and into a land where there is: no radiation

no chemo

no walkers

no wheel chairs

no hospital

no dependence on others

no frustration,

no fear

no hospice care.

Yea, Jim will be missed for sure. But our God is the God of all comfort.

To Jim’s family: He will bind your broken hearts with His love and He will not stop with them. He will do the same for each of us. God loves us and sees our needs. Let Him meet those needs today and every day. By getting into the habit of leaning on him even before your feet hit the floor each morning. By saying “God just for today, as best as I can, I’m going to live by Your will and not mine”. You start doing that and you will find it LIFE CHANGING. If enough of us do it we can change the world. And if you haven’t come to the point that you can honestly say you don’t fear death. Then you have some business you need to take care of sooner than later.  Don’t put it off tomorrow may not come.

St Paul wrote these words as his date with death approached:  “2 Timothy 4  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.”

And folks, that is the reason that even in the midst of our loss we are so full of hope.

Let’s pray

Audio Podcast of above at;

https://www.buzzsprout.com/41402/529601-fykey-wav

My personal journey to wholeness in my free online book  @

Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

 

Pockets

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

The mid-twenties something man stood next to his dad in the lobby of our church. He looked sparkling,  clean-cut and just a bit self-conscious. If I hadn’t known better, I might have thought he was a soldier home on leave; but that was not the case. His presence there, at that moment in time, was a visible testament to his dad’s unfaltering and unconditional love, commitment and determination to get his son back. The truth of the matter is that he had just returned home after serving almost two and a half years in a Federal facility on a drug charge. As we chatted he remarked to me, “My dad warned me that I was messing up. I didn’t pay any attention to my dad and it got me 29 months in jail”.

I could tell he was becoming emotional. He put his hands in his pockets and looked down and he began to sob. Then he said the strangest thing. These pockets sure feel good! You know in jail you don’t have pockets; it’s amazing what you don’t think about until you don’t have it.”  The young man then removed his glasses and the tears overflowed from his crystal-clear eyes. I hugged him and told him that we all loved him. I don’t think I’ll ever take pockets for granted again.

Something to Think About

John

© 2017 John Gouldener All Rights Reserved

Podcast:   

http://www.buzzsprout.com/41402

My journey to wholeness in my free online book  @

Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

Be Still…

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Over the weekend, I was in line at McDonald’s and the woman’s order in front of me totaled $5.21. She handed the clerk a ten and then said “I’ve got the twenty-one cents”. I pretty much knew what would happen next.  As the clerk stood there holding the ten, the woman began to scrounge around in her purse. She twisted and contorted herself as she dug deeper for the elusive coins. The clerk rolled her eyes. The guy behind me sighed a bit. A little girl toward the back said, “Mommy I’m hungry”. Me —– I just smiled because I knew I had a good story in the making. As the line grew longer the woman started taking stuff out of her bag and placing it on the counter — a mini umbrella, a wad of tissue, a bottle of hand sanitizer, a cell phone and a huge key ring with a picture of a golden retriever.  At this point I remember thinking, “Gee, I wish I had thought to time this search”.  The guy behind me started to pray. At least I heard him say something about God. The stoic clerk looked our way and silently mouthed, “I’m sorry”.  The hungry little girl began to cry. I thanked God that in my old age He has given me some patience and a sense of humor.

The truth is when we go for “fast food” we expect to wait. That is part of the experience. But when it comes to God we expect his train to run on our schedule. Yet, often He keeps us waiting. God is rich in wisdom.  He always has a specific reason for His delays. When I’m waiting on God I’m tempted to help him out a bit.  That always involves some degree of me taking matters into my own hands. My bad — always! “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act”. Psalms 37:7 (NLT) In other words He never needs my help. While waiting on God our sole responsibility is to trust. The longer God takes to give me direction, the more He teaches me.

 

 

Something to think about

© 2017 John Gouldener,  All Rights Reserved

Podcast:   

http://www.buzzsprout.com/41402

My journey to wholeness in my free online book  @

Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

Looking Back

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Well, I just saw my first post-Obama bumper sticker. It has his pic along with this caption: “And you thought I was bad!” Following that car, suddenly I had a flashback to the Jethro Tull hit from the late sixties, “Living in the Past”, in which Jethro longed to return to the peaceful days prior to the Vietnam War.  I thought about me and my buddies from grade school going to the Knickerbocker Theater when tickets were twenty-five cents and popcorn was a nickel. Next, with a tinge of sadness, I remembered the uncomfortable treadmill life that I used to live when I chose to allow my past to dictate my today.

Finally, I recollected the wise words of St. Paul, “… I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…”  Philippians 3:13 (NLT)  Recollections are past tense; whereas, reality only occurs in the present which means that today is the only day we can change.

Something to think about

 

 

 

             © 2017 John Gouldener All Rights Reserved

Podcast:   

http://www.buzzsprout.com/41402

My journey to wholeness in my free online book  @

Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Agai

No Dumbass

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

The other night I was in line at McDonalds behind a woman who placed an order for one burger that had several caveats attached. She first got my attention when she was very wordy with her order. Like she said that it was for her sister and not for herself and on and on. She then griped about the price. The order came out rather quickly. Unfortunately, the woman opened the bag to find that it was not correct. While showing me the burger she said to me, “Look I told her no mayo. She is such a dumbass”.  Since I know the counter person I said, “No she is not a dumbass. She is a hard worker.  Somebody along the line made a mistake, but that does not make her a dumbass any more than you would be a dumbass if you made a mistake. It’s a mistake; that is all.” The woman gave me a strange look, apologized and left with another burger that was correct.

Cathy and Hudson, my grandson, were both proud of me for defending the worker. As I was basking in the warm glow of their adulation I had this thought: Would I have been as vocal had the complainer been 6’4”, 245 pounds with a three-day stubble? I think I would.

Podcast:   

http://www.buzzsprout.com/41402

My journey to wholeness in my free online book  @

Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

OUCH!

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

I’m at Starbucks drinking a tall decaf with nutmeg. I can get it cheaper and better at McDonalds, but I find the people-watching is still better here, regardless of the price. Here are my observations about some of the folks I’m watching: There is a woman standing outside in a light midst smoking a really long cigarette. It is cold out there and she is coatless.  I think she might be shivering. She looks really anxious; every time she takes a drag, as she exhales, she looks down at the cigarette in her hand.  I think she is checking to see how much longer she will have to stand out in the cold rain enjoying her smoke. It will be a while. She doesn’t look like she is having fun. Once, as she blew smoke out her nose, for just a split second, smoking appealed to me again; I better stop watching her. I don’t get it. Why do people stand shivering in the rain to do something that isn’t good for them? Maybe it is the same reason that I sometimes eat a pound of M&Ms.

Across from me there is a guy reading a newspaper. Actually, he is reading two —- The New York Times and The Tennessean. They aren’t his papers. I see him here often; he just borrows them from the rack. When he is finished he will reassemble and put them back. Is that stealing? I think it is. I wish people didn’t do that. When I buy a paper I want it to be crisp, unwrinkled and flat without that fellow’s crumbs or grease spots. Why do folks do things like that?  I’m sure he doesn’t consider it wrong any more than I do when I speed or gossip a bit. There are a couple of teens on an I Pad; I’ve heard the “F Bomb” twice already. I think that is really tacky. I am tempted to go over and say something. For some reason, I just recalled a day, many years ago, when I let one fly.  OUCH!

You know there is a lot to be learned about ourselves just watching other folks drink coffee.

Something to think about.

John

Podcast:   http://www.buzzsprout.com/41402

My journey to wholeness in my free online book  @

Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

People Pleaser

Friday, January 13th, 2017

For the first 15 years of my ministry, after a service I could have 50 people say “good job”, but if my wife or a close friend didn’t give me an “atta boy” I wanted to shoot myself. That is the sad truth. Sadly, I lived like that for most of my life. Some of you know the feeling. I hope what I am telling you will help. You are not alone!

For reasons that mostly had their genesis in a child’s imagination,  a guy who had pretty much succeeded at nearly everything I ever tried, other than hitting a golf ball straight, every day of my life until fall of 2005, I secretly felt like an inferior product – a reject or a second. Metaphorically, I equated myself to one of those over-priced “YETI”© products that you can buy for 75% off because it has a huge dent or leaking top. I found that to be a very painful way to live!

The fact of life is many people who are driven to perform and achieve, folks who often stand on the stages of life, are some of the most deeply insecure people on the planet. I find this to be particularly true of people in the helping professions – like ministers and counselors.  If any of what I’ve said hits home with you then believe me when I tell you that you do not have to live that way. Here is something you might want to try. Each day before your feet ever hit the floor ask yourself:  “For whom am I going to live this day?  Am I going to live my life to please people or am I going to live my life to please God?”  If you daily choose people you will pretty much set yourself up to fail, but if you choose God, you will never again be people dependent.

Something to Think About

Podcast:   http://www.buzzsprout.com/41402

My journey to wholeness in my free online book  @

Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

Easy

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

the-easy-way-or-the-hard-way

With the regularity of the Swallows annual return to Mission San Juan Capistrano, come loads of new folks for the annual New Year’s pilgrimage to the gym. Unfortunately, few will still be working out by spring. This morning at the “Y”, in addition to several new people, I also noticed a new Stairmaster type machine. They are thinking about replacing the older machines with the new type and asked folks to try it out and write their comments down. The first comment card that I read said, “Wow, I like it. It is much easier than the old ones!”   From my experience, as a rule “easy” and “success” are mutually exclusive concepts. Yet “easy” seems to be our chosen default setting.

It is much easier to stay in bed and skip the gym. It is easier to hate than love. It is easier to believe everything you see on the Internet than to seek truth for yourself. It is easier to stay in an addiction than to commit to the program. It is easier to sell drugs than work at McDonalds. It is easier to steal what belongs to someone else. Often, it is easier to lie than to tell the truth. It is easier to make believe that you are prefect than to face your glaring flaws. It is easier to blindside someone than to face them head on. It is easier to play with your cell phone than with your kids. It is easier to pig out than to say “no”.  It is easier to hate than to love. It is easier to continue to smoke than to quit. It is easier to leave God out of the equation of life than to deal with the consequences of including Him. It is easier to give up than continue. It is easier to blame someone  else. It is easier to be more talk than action. It is easier to hold grudges than to forgive. It is easier to badmouth than to praise. It is easier to keep it all than to give some away. It is easier to wallow in pride than to seek forgiveness. It is easier to drive drunk than to call Uber. It is easier to tear down than to build up. It is easier to say the right words than do the right thing. It is easier to dream than to do. It is easier to be stingy than to be generous. It is easier to keep a few man-made rules than really follow Jesus.

Something to think about

Podcast:   http://www.buzzsprout.com/41402

Bare Limbs

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

mbhqxiwI took this picture Christmas Day near Nashville, Tennessee, as I lay on a creek bank, with a full stomach, looking up into a cloudless blue sky, thinking about Christmases past.  In my prone position, staring up at the huge oaks and poplars lining the bank, I was taken by the stark beauty of the bare limbs as they reached up to their source of life. Those branches could be a metaphor of my life and the countless times I reached up to God petitioning Him to intervene on my behalf or for loved ones in times of urgent need. It has been my experience that it is only when we strip ourselves naked of pride and self sufficiency that we truly surrender ourselves to our Creator.  It is only then that we wholly depend on our Source of life and His unfailing provision for us.  Looking at those limbs, I realized that while they were all similar, none were just alike.  For the hour so that I spent there listening to the babbling waters, I imagined those limbs as reflections  of  particular times in my life when I did not just pray, but times I begged God to help in periods of utter powerlessness. Here is a sampling of some limbs that I identified:  My dad’s fight with lung cancer, the night my brother was shot and critically wounded, the time in my early business career when I made a really big mistake, the day my nephew drowned, the days in Cathy’s pregnancy with Michael when we feared that there were problems,  the false scare that a young friend had MS, three newborn baby boys of dear friends born with heart problems, my 45 year struggle with my past including a lot of lies, the loss of a church I helped to build and the part I played in that sad story, the time I took Michael to the emergency room with a kidney stone,  the rejection I got a few weeks ago when I reached out after many years, the many times I prayed for the sick and hurting in our churches.

The powerful truth of the naked tree is that the source of the tree’s life will surely cloth those branches with a new blanket of leaves in the spring. The nakedness will last only for a short season.  Likewise, our times of utter powerlessness over life’s events are never permanent, but for a season only. In time God always clothes us in a coat of new hope.  The sun always rises and God always loves without fail.

Something to think about

 

My  journey to wholeness in my free online book  @ Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again

Opening the Box

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

dollarphotoclub_73799158-1024x680During my years as a pastor I would often use the expression “Big G God”. It is one thing to use that term; it is something else to believe that God is big enough to take care of you. Sometimes we tend to see God as a celestial grandfather whose chief attribute, perhaps his only attribute, is love. A danger we have in the church today is that we tend to strip God of his other attributes.  One of his attributes is that he is all-powerful; therefore, he does have the power to take care of you and everybody else. It doesn’t matter who you are or what is going on in your life. God has enough power! But you’ve gotta believe!

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Up until eleven years ago I lived for forty-five years in a shadowy world of shame and self-doubt carrying the deep, dark secret of having been sexually abused. I looked good on the outside, but inside I didn’t feel very good. Whenever my wife asked if anything “like that” had happened to me, I always said “no”. The reason I didn’t tell the truth is pretty simple actually. I could tell you that I was ashamed or that I was embarrassed, feared rejection or was afraid to admit it. All of that was true but the bottom line was I didn’t believe God was big enough to get me through dealing with my past. I didn’t see how it could possibly ever work out for my good. I had God stuffed into a box of my own making — a small box in fact.

Well, I’m happy to be able to tell you that now my inside matches my outside. I’ve opened the box and let God be God and I found out He’s bigger than big. God is huge! I decided to face the secret, tell the truth and trust God to take care of me. He did!  I’ve been blessed to  share my story with many others. My life has never been better. I have experienced personally how awesomely enormous the “big” is in God. My part was to open the box; God did the rest.

Something to Think About

My  journey to wholeness in my free online book  @ Part 1 UNSCREWED – Becoming Whole Again